U.K. Recent History 1

U.K. Recent History Part I


Internal political developments: After Germany’s unconditional surrender (in force since May 9, 1945), cabinet members who did not belong to the Conservative Party resigned. In the general election of July 1945, the Labor Party won an extremely high election with 393 seats (compared to 189 for the Conservatives). As Prime Minister (1945–51), Attlee appointed important representatives of the British labor movement and members of the British War Cabinet to his government, such as H. S. Morrison (President of the Privy Council), H. Dalton (Finance), S. Cripps (Commerce) and E. Bevin (Exterior). The financial situation was extremely difficult. In order to raise the costs of the war, large parts of the capital invested abroad (in the amount of over £ 1 billion) had been sold during the war, the interest flow of which now ceased; national wealth had declined by £ 7.5 billion. In this situation, the costs of rebuilding the country, of pensions and of converting the economy from war to peace production put a heavy strain on the state budget. As finance minister, Cripps therefore implemented an austerity program (Austerity); the bonds granted by the USA in 1946 brought major encroachments on the independence of British monetary and foreign trade policy and made clear the economic and financial dependence of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the USA. Without the Marshall Plan Aid (ERP, 1947) the British economy would have collapsed. The devaluation of the pound by almost a third of its value (1949) was perceived as a serious loss of foreign policy weight.

With the law to nationalize the Bank of England (December 1945), the Labor government initiated a reform program. In 1946 it nationalized coal mining and civil aviation, in 1947 essential parts of transport (including railways, ports, inland shipping) and in 1947/48 electricity and gas production. The nationalization of the iron and steel industry, initiated in 1948 (carried out in 1951), was particularly contested between her and the conservative opposition. With the Social Security Act (1946) and the introduction of a free public health service (1946), the Attlee government sought to develop Great Britain and Northern Ireland into a welfare state.

After the parliamentary majority of the Labor government had been reduced to 5 seats in the general election in 1950, the election victory of the Conservatives (1951) with 321 seats compared to 295 for the Labor Party established a longer period of conservative governments (until 1964). In contrast to their election manifesto, the Conservatives under the Churchill government (1951–55) reversed only a few nationalizations, including those of the iron and steel industry. The British position in foreign trade improved as the global economy recovered. After the death of George VI. (February 6, 1952), Elizabeth II (crowned on June 2, 1953) ascended the throne. In April 1955, Eden took over as Churchill’s successor the office of prime minister. Emerging stronger from the general election of 1955, according to Hyperrestaurant, the Eden government sought to implement the idea of ​​a socially responsible democracy based on private property. However, it did not succeed in curbing increasing inflation and the unions’ strike and wage policy, which had serious economic consequences.

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

British Prime Minister
Robert Walpole (Whig) 1721-1742
Spencer Compton (Whig) 1742-1743
Henry Pelham (Whig) 1743-1754
Thomas Pelham-Holles (Whig) 1754-1756, 1757-1762
William Cavendish (Whig) 1756-1757
John Stuart 1762-1763
George Grenville 1763-1765
Charles Watson Wentworth (Whig) 1765-1766, 1782
William Pitt, the elder 1766-1768
Augustus Henry Fitzroy 1768-1770
Frederick North 1770-1782
William Petty-Fitzmaurice 1782-1783
William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck (Whig) 1783, 1807-1809
William Pitt the Younger (Tory) 1783-1801, 1804-1806
Henry Addington (Tory) 1801-1804
William Wyndham Grenville 1806-1807
Spencer Perceval (Tory) 1809-1812
Robert Banks Jenkinson (Tory) 1812-1827
George Canning (Tory) 1827
Frederick John Robinson (Tory) 1827-1828
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (Tory) 1828-1830, 1834
Charles Gray (Whig) 1830-1834
William Lamb (Whig) 1834, 1835-1841
Sir Robert Peel (Tory, later cons.) *) 1834-1835, 1841-1846
John Russell (first Whig Liberal, then Liberal Party) 1846-1852, 1865-1866
Edward Geoffrey Stanley (Cons.) 1852, 1858-1859, 1866-1868
George Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen 1852-1855
Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston (Liberal Party) 1855-1858, 1859-1865
Benjamin Disraeli (cons.) 1868, 1874-1880
William Ewart Gladstone (Liberal Party) 1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, 1892-1894
Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury (Cons.) 1885-1886, 1886-1892, 1895-1902
Archibald Philip Primrose, Earl of Rosebery (Liberal Party) 1894-1895
Arthur James Balfour (Cons.) 1902-1905
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal Party) 1905-1908
Herbert Henry Asquith (Liberal Party) 1908-1916
David Lloyd George (Liberal Party) 1916-1922
Andrew Bonar Law (Cons.) 1922-1923
Stanley Baldwin (Cons.) 1923-1924, 1924-1929, 1935-1937
James Ramsay MacDonald (Labor Party) 1924, 1929-1935
Arthur Neville Chamberlain (Cons.) 1937-1940
Sir Winston Churchill (Cons.) 1940-1945, 1951-1955
Clement Richard Attlee (Labor Party) 1945-1951
Sir Robert Anthony Eden (Cons.) 1955-1957
Harold Macmillan (Cons.) 1957-1963
Sir Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home(Cons.) 1963-1964
Harold Wilson (Labor Party) 1964-1970, 1974-1976
Edward Heath (Cons.) 1970-1974
James Callaghan (Labor Party) 1976-1979
Margaret Thatcher (Cons.) 1979-1990
John Major (Cons.) 1990-1997
Tony Blair (Labor Party) 1997-2007
Gordon Brown (Labor Party) 2007-2010
David Cameron (Cons.) 2010-2016
Theresa May (cons.) 2016–19
Boris Johnson (Cons.) since 2019
*) Cons. = Conservative and Unionist Party

U.K. Recent History 1